"Not Entirely Convinced"3.0 starson by ro53ben
Pros: Improvement on existing product offerings, low budget alternative
Cons: Setup woes, synchronisation problems, Rhapsody limitations
Summary: I'm not entirely convinced.
As a freelance consultant to some UK based hifi resellers and publications I've been following the Duet closely since it was announced. Previously Sonos has always been very high up on my recommended list...a true 5 star product.
Duet certainly improves on the previously very limited control mechanism offering Squeeze owners a glimpse of the full Sonos experience.
Looking into it a little closer, you can see it still offers some of the same negatives that all Slim products have come packaged with. Setup still isn't as simple as it could be, juggling with wifi encryption keys and fiddly interfaces makes it a little more like Plug & Pray that ease of use.
The Slim communities are full of similar setup woes, with even hardened geeks getting it all wrong at times.
One particular thread from the community is worth a read:
It compares some of the market leading Sonos functions with Duet and shows where Slim have fallen short. Music services like Rhapsody can only be played back in 3 rooms and can't be synchronised. Same goes for internet radio, so your favourite radio station will echo annoyingly between your kitchen and Den areas.
Sonos can play these services in up to 32 zones in perfect sync. As Slim Devices Developer andyg said in their own forum "We can't do that" "this is not possible because our server is open source". But will it do it in the future, andyg? "don't get your hopes up about that."
Ironically the whole open source nature that attracted geeks to Squeezebox is what is holding it back when it tries to compete effectively in the market place. Years since the Sonos launch and it still can't sync zones efficiently which is what attracted people to Sonos in the first place.
Delay between the players can be such that you feel you're listening not in your home but in the Grand Canyon...which kinda describes the gap between Duet and Sonos when it comes to core functionality.
Even the new controller falls way short of the full control offered by Sonos in their handheld controller which is totally intuitive and easy to pick up for new owners.
If people just wanted to put their digital music in different rooms of the home with a remote control, they could just buy a Bose Sounddock - the clear winner at the low end of the market. But if they want full control and a whole house experience, Sonos is still going to take the gold medal.
So where does this leave Slim? Well, I guess the guys over at Gizmodo cover it well. 'because of the Linux-friendly nature of Squeeze, the "tweaker or hacker type" will have lots of fun'. Certainly more fun than it is trying to train retail staff how to set it up.